Alice Barbe is the President and Founder of L'Academie Des Futurs Leaders, a political leadership incubator giving people committed to social justice and environmental causes the tools they need to become the political leaders of tomorrow. She was one of Forbes France’s 40 Women in 2022.
How would you describe your political path?
Both political and apolitical! I have always been committed to fighting for social justice through my studies in political sciences and my involvement as an activist—especially with the NGO I co-founded to change perceptions on refugees and migration, SINGA. I had the chance to spend a year in New York with the support and mentorship of the Obama Foundation in 2018. During this time, I realized that I had been working in civil society for so long and that racism, xenophobia and hate speech were rising despite our efforts. I also realized that activists and social entrepreneurs needed to accelerate their efforts, and that it was time to boost political engagement. I started the Academy for Future Leaders as a result of these realizations.
“We don’t need more white old men who pretend they never sleep and save the world. We need to know that politicians are human beings.”
What are the most useful lessons you've learnt on the way?
That we need to organize. While we spend our time arguing about our causes, people who want to destroy democracy are mobilizing, with an indecent amount of funding. I am thinking of the university created by the niece of Marine Le Pen and the recent victories of the far right in Italy or Sweden.
I am convinced that millions of people want to defend democracy but do not know how. We do not need more courage or more determination, we need to be strategic about how we preserve what I think is the most precious system we have as human kind.
What are the top three things that could be done to get courageous, ethical and trusted politicians in your area?
We currently lack representation of those qualities. It does not mean politicians are unethical or weak but that there is insufficient focus on them. I have huge respect for politicians, they serve, in spite of many threats, including to their mental health.
So firstly, I think we need to hear more about their vulnerability. We don’t need more white old men who pretend they never sleep and save the world. We need to know that politicians are human beings, so that we could build more empathy for them and they can feel more empathy toward those that they serve.
Secondly, I think it is time for those coming from underrepresented communities get a seat at the table. They know how to deal with injustice because they have seen and often lived it.
Finally, I think we need more credibility. Politics has become a disgusting word for many people. We need to change those perceptions, but for this, it is essential to rally more allies.
What ideas and/or people are inspiring you at the moment?
I am inspired by this incredible ecosystem of bold and courageous political innovators. It is not easy to start in a field where there is basically no support, no money, and a huge lack of trust. But they fight, win, and inspire me to continue my work.
What story do you want communities to tell about politicians?
I would love communities to tell a story in which they are the politicians. I would love to discover people who do politics everyday without even being aware of it and have them run for elections and renew political parties.
Do you know of an inspiring person we should interview in the future? Send us your suggestions via email or on by following us on social media.